In Focus: Infants and Toddlers
Nov 20, 2013 | Permalink »
The Importance of Family Engagement in Infant and Toddler Programs
Family engagement strategies in child care and early education include families as partners and support families in parenting their children to help them reach their full potential. Research shows the value of building strong relationships among the adults in a young child's life and the positive impact those relationships can have on the family as a whole.
Strong family engagement practices are particularly important for families who face multiple challenges, like poverty and language barriers. For example, more than three-quarters of Head Start families receive at least one family engagement service from the program; the most commonly accessed are parenting education (52 percent), health education (48 percent), and emergency or crisis intervention (21 percent). Despite its importance, knowing how to effectively engage parents from a variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in child care and early education has historically been a challenge for the field. However, effective models like the Strengthening Families and Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement frameworks have offered approaches that can help policy makers and practitioners improve family engagement practices.
To shine light on what research tells us about the importance of family engagement in child care and early education programs serving infants and toddlers, CLASP has released a new resource. Promote Family Engagement is part of CLASP's "Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care" project, an ongoing effort by CLASP to link research to policy ideas to help states make the best decisions for infants and toddlers in child care. This latest resource provides research documenting the importance of strengthening family engagement, policy recommendations states can consider to improve their family engagement strategies for infants and toddlers, and additional online resources.
Using information provided in Promote Family Engagement, States can put policies in place that support and strengthen families with infants and toddlers and increase child care and early education providers' ability to serve those children well. By incorporating expectations around family engagement practices into quality, subsidy and licensing policies, states can build on the success of existing models and practices, creating both the incentive and the supports that programs require to meet the needs of vulnerable families. To find out more about the importance of family engagement in programs serving infants and toddlers, as well as the policy options available to states, visit Promote Family Engagement>>
Nov 14, 2013 | Permalink »
Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality
Today, CLASP, together with the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), released Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality. The joint report reveals that significant underinvestment in early care and education programs at the state and federal levels has left large numbers of children underserved.
High-quality early care and education can play a critical role in promoting young children's early learning and success in life, while also supporting families' economic security. Young children at highest risk of educational failure - those experiencing poverty and related circumstances that may limit early learning experiences - benefit the most from high-quality early care and education programs.
Major findings in the report include:
- Family economic hardship is the predominant risk factor associated with academic failure and poor health. Nationally, 25 percent of children under six live in poverty. Other risk factors include having a teen parent, living in a household without English speakers, and having parents without a high school degree.
- Children are underserved by the three largest federal child care and early education programs: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and Head Start and Early Head Start. Funding for CCDBG has not kept pace with inflation and growing need. Since 2006, approximately 150,000 children have lost access to child care subsidies and an additional 30,000 will lose subsidies as a result of sequestration.
- Although funding for Head Start has increased by $1.2 billion from 2006 to 2012, demand has exceeded its growth. Only 42 percent of eligible children are served by Head Start preschool and a mere 4 percent of children who are eligible are served by Early Head Start. As a result of sequestration, 57,000 children have lost or will lose access to Head Start services in 2013.
- For child care and early education to be effective, it must be high-quality. However, states are not meeting recommended benchmarks. Currently, only 4 states (CT, ND, OR, VT) meet benchmarks for both class size and adult-child ratios, while 33 states meet neither of these critical benchmarks.
A complex mix of federal and state investments and policies shapes low-income families' access to quality early care and education. Currently, these investments and policies are too weak to benefit large numbers of young children experiencing economic hardship and other circumstances that can pose serious risks to their healthy development and school success. Strong investments in early learning, such as those proposed in the Strong Start for America's Children Act that was introduced yesterday, can help connect vulnerable children and their families with home visiting services, high-quality child care, and preschool -- all of which counter negative risk factors and support healthy child development.
Nov 13, 2013 | Permalink »
Strong Start for America's Children Act Introduced in Senate and House
Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced the Strong Start for America's Children Act: landmark legislation that provides for universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten services for low-income children through a federal-state partnership and expands quality child care for infants and toddlers.
High-quality early education experiences are widely recognized as key to preparing young children for school success and improving the lifetime employment and earnings of low-income children. In addition to children and families, our society as a whole bears a large cost burden for children not equipped to succeed in life. The Strong Start for America's Children Act would contribute to rebuilding the middle class and help equalize the opportunities our children have at the starting gate.
CLASP supports the following components of the bill that would advance high-quality, comprehensive early care and education systems across the country by:
- Setting clear expectations for high-quality services including high staff qualifications and developmentally appropriate and evidence-based curricula and learning environments.
- Providing critical supports to increase the educational attainment of the early childhood workforce.
- Addressing the needs of low-income working families by allowing for the provision of pre-kindergarten services in schools, Head Start and child care settings and establishing expectations for the provision of full-day services and comprehensive health services.
- Providing for partnerships between Early Head Start and child care programs to ensure that more vulnerable infants and toddlers have access to the comprehensive early education and family support services that are the hallmark of Head Start.
It's now up to Members of Congress to move this legislation forward as well as support a final budget that ends the sequester and includes significant new investments in early learning.